A California man is facing charges for allegedly distributing food laced with poison among eight homeless people in Huntington Beach and filming their post-consumption painful reactions, prosecutors said Thursday (June 11).

William Robert Cable, 38, of San Andreas placed oleoresin capsicum inside the food, something which prosecutors described as “twice as strong as the pepper spray used by police.” The substance is the main active ingredient used in pepper spray.

Cable was handed at least eight felony charges of poisoning and inflicting injury, and an additional one for a victim being elderly, on top of eight misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to the Orange County Register.

Some victims were told they were taking part in a “spicy food challenge,” and even given other food and beer to lure them into eating the tainted food, according to the publication.

“These human beings were preyed upon because they are vulnerable,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “They were exploited and poisoned as part of a twisted form of entertainment, and their pain was recorded so that it could be relived by their attacker over and over again.” It was not immediately known if the videos were posted somewhere online.

“The cruel nature of these crimes shocks the conscience of our community,” Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said in the District Attorney’s statement.

As a result of eating the poisoned food, some of the victims started having seizure-like symptoms, while others had difficulty breathing, nausea accompanied by intense mouth and stomach pain. They were then rushed to the hospital.

Authorities believed that the poisoning began mid-May and it first came to the notice of the city’s fire department, which alerted the Huntington Beach police. Cable was arrested on May 22.

Prosecutors alleged a juvenile had also been involved in the crime but what role the minor played wasn’t clear. The child’s possible relationship with Cable was also not known.

Cable is being held at Orange County Jail on $500,000 bail. He would likely face up to 19 years and three months if convicted.

Homeless people take shelter at a New York subway station on April 13
Homeless people take shelter at a New York subway station on April 13 GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / SPENCER PLATT